By Harry Johnston
Before I reflect upon my first year serving as chairman, I must mention that it has been great to work with fellow members of the Cherokee County Board of Commissioners. We havent always initially agreed, but weve been able to compromise enough that, so far, all votes have been unanimous. Buzz Ahrens built that cooperative atmosphere during his 12 years as chairman, and I hope to continue it.
Here are my top long-term growth goals:
-Manage residential growth, so it doesnt overwhelm citizens and destroy the quality of life that makes Cherokee a great place to live.
-Provide necessary infrastructure and services while keeping tax rates among the lowest in the state.
-Attract good jobs and nonresidential tax base.
-We decided not to sell county property by the Aquatic Center for apartment development and in southwest Cherokee for a trucking warehouse. Both were opposed by surrounding neighbors, and the apartment project was also opposed by the City of Holly Springs. The two parcels are still for sale, but for uses more compatible with the adjacent neighborhoods.
-We enacted a detailed development plan for the Highway 92 corridor (west of Bells Ferry Road) to allow important economic development to continue while protecting homeowners and promoting retail development residents want.
We resolved a noise dispute between a sporting clay shooting range and neighbors in northwest Cherokee.
-We passed a new Farm Winery Ordinance to address issues stemming from the commercial bar aspects of a winery adjacent to a neighborhood. That process is ongoing, with a public hearing expected this month on a Special Use Permit to determine limits for that winerys bar and entertainment operations.
-We discussed but decided not to pass a stronger noise ordinance that would have addressed gunfire and fireworks, among other noises.
-We fully rolled back the General Maintenance & Operations and Parks Bond millage rates, so the average taxpayer saw no increase in those taxes. We held the Fire Tax rate constant to provide for a small dollar increase to continue improving fire service.
-We drafted a revision and held a public hearing on the controversial Conservation Subdivision (CONSUB) Ordinance, which allows smaller lot sizes in return for leaving undisturbed green space. At this writing, we havent voted on it, and we might make adjustments before we do. I believe we will approve it this year. Significantly, use of CONSUB standards will be subject to approval by the Board of Commissioners versus the developers choice.
-We fostered an era of cooperation between the county and the City of Holly Springs regarding residential growth management. Weve mostly synchronized our land use plans, and the City has been more conservative about annexations.